Eric and Krystal Johnson purchase Newaygo’s book store
Story by Ken DeLaat
“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.”-Neil Gaiman, American Gods
There is nothing that provides a welcoming vibe to a town like a bookstore.
When traveling I find discovering these little oases of bibliotherapy tells me a bit about the area. I’ve rarely let pass an opportunity to visit them and will generally find something to purchase because I want them to stay around.
Vacationing in Alabama the past couple of years, LSC Lil and I stumbled upon a classic used book store that captured our hearts in the town of Foley. We won’t be returning to the area anytime soon as we decided to explore other winter options but one of the arguments for returning was the book store.
Yeah, not the beaches, the trails or the epic bread pudding at Fisherman's Corner.
The book store
Here’s the thing about a bookstore of this ilk. You not only get some serious bargains on your reading material, you feel good about saving a tree or two by giving these novel nuggets a chance to be reread. When I’ve truly enjoyed a book I want to have others do the same. Interestingly (or to be more accurate ‘predictably’ I’m told) my reading tastes often differ from those I interact with so those who know me well often respond with ‘no thanks’ when I offer them the next read on one of my acquisitions. Thus having it return to the shelves allows for someone else to appreciate the selections.
Newaygo has been privileged to be home to an outstanding book store for many years, though it has gone through a transformation or two.
And now the latest chapter in the store’s story will begin.
The downtown bookery known as Flying Bear has recently changed hands as John and Marsha Reeves handed the keys over to Eric and Krystal Johnson who now hold proprietorship of this epicenter of good reading.
We sat down with the Johnsons in a cozy corner of their latest acquisition and talked about the new venture.
“We were looking for a business opportunity in the community and thought ‘Why not books?’", said Eric Johnson who also holds a seat on the City Council as Mayor pro tem.
“Everything about this just felt right. This is an up and coming community and we want to be a part of it with a thriving business.”
There will be changes to the store, though these will come in time as the Johnsons settle in with their new venture. Plans include adding a creperie as a place for folks to have a cup of coffee and a bite to eat as they peruse their purchases and displaying the works of local authors and artists in the welcoming little nook.
Other ideas include providing a venue for poetry readings, book clubs, music, reviews and more.
The store is able to order new releases as well as any other books should one care to be the first one to crack open their purchase. Personally I prefer a gently used edition, and despite opinions to the contrary not just because I’m often called, uh… thrifty. It just feels like kind of a recommendation when someone passes along a favorite read.
But yes, the price tag is always a tad sweeter.
The enthusiasm the couple has for joining the downtown Newaygo business landscape is obvious as I watched them greet customers in between discussing their vision for the new venture. Both love reading, the arts, and being part of this eclectic community.
And now they are hoping the community shares their enthusiasm, not only for what Flying Bear Books is…
But what it will become.
It’s a great place to browse, there is a wide selection of fun reads, the Johnsons are good company and (if you know how to play) there is a guitar on the premises just waiting for someone to put it through its paces.
Flying Bear Books is open Wednesday through Saturday from 12-6pm.